Why polymerics and electrolytes don’t mix, By Pharma (in simple terms)
We all know that many of the polymeric emulsifiers and electrolytes don’t always make the best of friends. But sometimes we just know they don’t mix, but are not fully aware of why they don’t.
We have an incredible asset on this forum, @Pharma , and he has taken time from his busy schedule to address this question, so we can know why…. and sleep better at night. Thank you so much @Pharma , and I hope the rest of the members appreciate him like I do. (If so….he likes ginger candies and dehydrated Mac nuts. ) Here is his explanation that even a business major can understand.
I don’t have a link which would explain it in layman’s terms.
I can try to explain it: the incompatibility is mostly seen with charged
(commonly anionics ergo negative charges) polymers. These work because
the charges repel themselves like magnets of the same pole which leads
to unfolding of the molecular strings. Like searches like: molecules
tend to assemble with kin and the closest kin is themself like a snake
head falling in love with its tail -> polymers precipitate unless they
find motivation to unfold. A salt always contains negative and positive
charges and one of these will be attracted by the charges of other
molecules such as charged polymers. The salt atoms floating around the
charged groups of the polymer string shield the polymers charges from
each other, repulsion gets lost and the unfolded polymer collapses.
High salt concentrations will also cause non-ionic polymers to
precipitate like they precipitate anything in solution due to the
Most non-ionic emulsifiers are less effective than charged ones because
the charge repelling effect is a very strong effect. Uncharged polymers
unfold (form a ternary structure) due to their secondary structure. That
secondary structure is a least energy/lowest strain conformation of the
molecule. ‘Squeezing it together’ or bending it, say helical, structure
requires only very little energy.
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